Susan Sontag: "Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer; they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing – may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget."
Sontag also may have helped prompt Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz' fresh attack on Ginsberg and the Beats in 1988 by, as president of PEN American Center, signing Ginsberg's letter in support of Palestinian press freedoms, or maybe, since Norm doesn't confide these things to me, it was Ginsberg going to a Tel Aviv protest to read "Jawah and Allah Battle" that year including the line "Commentary and Palestine Review sent me here!", or maybe it was only a matter of literary taste, as before. Ginsberg's response was classic:
Good old Norman Podhoretz. If he weren't there like a wall I can butt my head against, I wouldn't have anyone to hate. And why hate him? He's part of my world, and he's sort of like the character the Blue Meanie.. did I ever really hate him or was I just sort of fascinated by him? I saw him as a sort of sacred personage in my life, in a way; someone whose vision is so opposite from mine that it's provocative and interesting - just as my vision is provocative and interesting enough for him to write columns against in the newspaper. In fact, maybe he's more honest than I am because he attacks me openly. So I should really respect him as one of the sacred personae in the drama of my own transitory experience.
Norm's son, a marital relative of Elliott Abrams, took over Commentary in 2009...
|"Sam, I thought I told you never to.."|